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While vacationing in Maryland, I got one of those phone calls nobody likes.
It seems that a hailstorm damaged the roof of our “Charlotte Road” home.
Somebody (not me) decided that I should make the trip back south by myself to check everything out and call the insurance company, if necessary.
So much for my spring getaway. Sometimes this retirement gig ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.
I hadn’t been on the road very long when a Virginia deputy sheriff pulled me over. I wasn’t speeding (who can when gas is $4 a gallon?), so I was kinda’ curious as to what I had done.
It seems he couldn’t make out all of the license plate lettering because of the clear, plastic covering. We have a University of South Carolina tag and evidently, all that garnet crossed him up.
I figured he had a problem with his eyesight (among other things), but I was smart enough to keep that thought to myself.
After a thorough investigation, thank goodness I only got a verbal warning.
I arrived home later in the afternoon, got out and walked the property to survey the mess. I couldn’t tell too much about the roof, other than it was still where it was ’sposed to be. For some reason, I’m just not as adept with asphalt shingles as I am with cardboard.
I still didn’t know anything more about the damage the next morning, so I called George Waldrop. I let those “Good Hands” folks make arrangements for an adjuster to give the roof a once-over later in the week.
Since I wasn’t in the mood to take on wet leaves and broken branches, I decided to head downtown for a morning walk on some familiar ground.
I parked in the First Baptist parking lot on the corner of Arch and White streets, walked over to Market and turned south toward Chesterfield Avenue.
These days, the “new” church faces Market Street, but some 60 years ago, a two-story white frame parsonage was on that lot.
Walking down Market, I passed the homes of John Dunn (Collins Dunn store owner and home of the legendary 3-cents candy counter), Miss Virginia Taylor (Virginia’s Shoppe on Main) and deputy sheriff/tax collector Oscar Porter.
Crossing over to Chesterfield Avenue was the Laney home where Annasue, Lib, Tine and Son Roddey grew up.
Turning east, I passed what once was my cherished Chesterfield Avenue Grammar School. It’s now a shell of what it was in its heyday. There ain’t no teaching, reading, writing and arithmetic going on there now.
Missing along the sidewalk was the green mail box where we deposited the letters that got missed by our neighborhood mailman, Robert Rowell, who lived next door to Grandma Evans. U.S. Mail boxes were painted dark green back in those days, not blue like today.
It was hard not to notice the green grass growing in the median between the sidewalk and the curb.
When I was a boy, there were homes and families along that stretch who kept the walkways trimmed and neat. Even the sidewalks were showing their age, being cracked in numerous places.
I remember skating, riding my scooter and bicycle on once smooth walkways. Why, those sidewalks sure seemed a lot more narrow than they used to.
My poor old legs were feeling the effects of my long trek as I approached 407 Chesterfield Ave. I just stood there and looked. If you happened to be passing by, no, I wasn’t lost. I knew exactly where I was.
The only thing I was lost in was my thoughts.
Now, painted in shades of yellow and white, that house seemed smaller than when I roamed the hallways, played with Tiger and drew and flew make-believe airplanes on the back outside staircase.
Memories of my youth seemed so long ago as I stood in front of “our” house. The two big maples were no longer there and the front yard had shrunk from my yard-mowing days.
Our old neighborhood has really changed. Only the Ellison home, which Jerri, and her late husband, David Smith, restored to its former Victorian appearance, seems to look the same.
Thankfully, I can still hold onto surroundings that have changed or vanished entirely in my mind.
My legs were aching. Gosh was it really all those years ago that I ran down these sidewalks from daylight to dusk?
I made it back to the parking lot and sat down for a well-deserved rest. Any notion I had of walking up and down Main Street would have to be placed on hold for a later time.
You know, we go through stages in our lives.
Growing up, I lived in our cardboard world of make believe with picture show cowboys and “boogers.”
A world war came home when I was in grammar school. Fellas like Robert Rowell left to serve their country and never came back.
The formative high school years prepared me for the world yet to come and a family I couldn’t even imagine at the time. Those were the good old days, I think.
Hopefully, we make it to the retirement or golden years. If we are lucky, we make it the winding down years where I find myself now. It’s a place I can remember when.
Although, each phase has its up and downs, these winding-down years do have their share of interesting moments. It’s not as much fun as playing with Little Ben or Billy Pipkins, but it’s not bad.
I figure there’s a couple of more cardboard stories and adventures to share, but first I gotta get the yard cleaned up.